Inderscience Publishers

Power from closing the Red Sea: economic and ecological costs and benefits following the isolation of the Red Sea

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The closure of the Red Sea at its southern entrance (the Bab-al-Mandab Strait) could well lead to the world's largest hydropower generation, in the order of 50 000 MW. The cost and time-scales involved are beyond normal economical considerations. Macro-engineering projects of this size cause a massive destruction of existing ecologies. On the positive side of the environmental scale, however, are the big reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and the reduced pace of fossil hydrocarbon resource exhaustion. This paper examines the ethical and environmental dilemmas and some of the political implications of macro-engineering, as exemplified by the Bab-al-Mandab project. The precautionary principle does not offer a guideline in such a decision, as it not only seeks to avoid irreparable ecological changes but also concerns the well-being of future generations of people living around the Red Sea, which is promoted by access to a large and emission-free source of energy.

Keywords: Red Sea closure, Bab-al-Mandab Dam, power production, macroengineering, precautionary principle, hydropower generation, earth-biosphere sustainability, sustainable development, ethical dilemmas, environmental dilemmas, political implications, ecological destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil hydrocarbon resources

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